Day 77

A Tale of Two Beaches

(Fair play to her, a commenter from down there anonymously sent me the content below because she believed I have a sore shoulder and cannot type with my fingers, which are connected, loosely, to my shoulder, via my wrist and other bodily parts. So, take it away, Anonymous.)

So my sister told me yesterday that she was heading to the beach this morning. I texted her today to see if she was having a nice day.

Sister: Lovely. We are at Castlerock, my first time here cos you put me off it!! (Double quotation marks are never acceptable in edited prose, but this originated as a text, so I will give her sister the benefit of the doubt – me) Actually really nice!

Me: I’m sure it is lovely on a day like this but imagine it on a cold, wet January day, to an anxious teenager, who has just been thrown off the train because she had the wrong ticket, who is too nervous to go into the only cafe which is open at this time of year as it’s so small she knows she can’t socially distance from people like she normally would in the corner. And even if she could distance from people she would feel too apprehensive to go in anyway as she’s not actually sure she knows how to order in said cafe. Do you order at the counter? Or is it table service? She doesn’t know and there’s no one in the queue who she can copy. So, you know what, it’s just easier to keep on walking in the cold and rain because the worst thing that could happen is that people actually discover how awkward and scared she is.

Now imagine again this socially awkward teenager walking around Castlerock of all places, in the pouring rain with a bitterly cold wind coming in off the sea, and can I mention here that the only time this girl has actually ever heard of Castlerock is in a recent news report about four Catholic workmen being murdered there? As this girl lives in a house with a father who sleeps with an actual pitchfork at the side of the bed “in case someone comes in to assassinate us”, the answer she was given as a young child when she asked what the pitchfork was for, I’m sure you can understand why she didn’t feel completely comfortable in this loyalist backwater.

Now not only is this girl worried about not getting the correct train back to Coleraine to get her connection home, but she also has another underlying anxiety to deal with. Her mother is lying dying in hospital at that very minute. In fact she will be dead within the fortnight. The girl doesn’t realise this at the time. BUT to be fair to the girl, the other people in her family, the adults, the grownups, the people who should be guiding and teaching her as the ‘baby’ of the family, don’t realise either. Or maybe they do, but this family has a tendency not to talk about difficult subjects; in fact they have a tendency not to talk to each other at all, if possible. So the girl will never know if her mother’s death was as unexpected to everyone else as it was to her.

 So, this socially awkward girl goes home to her equally socially awkward family, soon to face the worst pain they have ever experienced.

As the years passed, this girl’s memories of Castlerock became entangled with the memories of her mother’s death, so please forgive her and understand exactly why her view of Castlerock might have been tainted to such an extent.

Sister: Lol! That is so sad so why am I laughing so much??


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